The Annunciation Trust

to help you discover the God you already know

Tag: present

What shall we do?

This year I have started out trying to live all my waking moments in conscious listening to the inner voice, asking without ceasing, “What, Father, do you desire said? What, Father, do you desire done this minute?”
It is clear that this is what Jesus was doing all day every day. But it is not what his followers have been doing in very large numbers.

Frank Laubach, Letters by a Modern Mystic (p. 4)

What shall I do? What is the best thing to do? How shall I make best use of my time? These are perennial human questions.

I have written before about the question people ask God: “What do You want me to do?” This may be  posed in a grandiose way, “What do You want me to do with my life?” The last time I wrote about this question I suggested that if we are going to presume that listening to God is a good way to get an answer, then this question is not the right place to start. You have to know God – to be in relationship with God – before you can know what God wants. And, because you are not separate from God, knowing God goes hand-in-glove with knowing yourself.

The experience of being human is to live as multiple personalities. Our thoughts host competing voices from several sources. Discernment is a life-long, often heart-breaking process of careful sifting to identify the authentic voice – the voice of God that speaks in us and as us.

When we ask, “What does God want me to do with my life?”, we set up an impossible conundrum. The question is based on the old, worn-out model of a god, an alien will somewhere out there, with a plan for all of our lives. If only this god would let on what is in his (sic) plan then we would know what to do.

The world is not like this. God has desires for us, desires for life, for happiness, for joy. A universe in which a god had a plan for every life would be a universe in which everything was foreordained. But God is more like a flow, a flow in the direction of life, love, and joy, a flow that constantly shifts with every turn of events – like a river running to the sea and flowing in response to the lay of the land. Then one day there is a landslide – a divorce, a death, illness, loss of employment – and the flow is blocked, for a while, and has to find another way.

Of course, it can be worth making long-term plans in life. It can be worth thinking about the unique person you are and the unique calling you may have. But oftentimes we will struggle to know what we want in the long-term, we cannot know what our lives are for, and we will never get to the bottom of who and what we are.

In line with Frank Laubach, I propose a different question.

What do You desire now?

When I ask myself this question I experience a kind of relief as time and space collapse into a point located in my chest. I am connected to God here and now. I stop thinking about the future. I stop worrying about outcomes. It is like I come home to myself. I no longer have to have a plan and think of the long term. I stop obsessing about ‘my’ life. All I am asking is, “What now?”

I have found that we can establish ourselves in a sense of the presence of God by continually talking with Him.

Brother Lawrence, Practising His Presence, p. 42

Immediately the whole thing becomes simpler. I am able to listen more intimately to myself, to what I really want at this moment. I am not burdened with worries about whether I am doing the right thing and what other people will think of me.

Life becomes an exploration, more playful, a set of experiments, trial-and error/trial-and-success. I ask the question, “What do You want me to do now?” I listen briefly for an answer and then I act. Sometime later I assess. How do I feel now? Was that worth doing? Did that seem meaningful? Do I have a feeling of satisfaction? Was I loving? Do I feel more or less satisfied by how I spent my time? Do I feel more or less enlivened, centred, content, present to God?

This requires a kind of trust in God, in the Universe, in Life – whatever you want to call it. It is trusting that I am part of something greater than little old me, something that has a better perspective that I can ever have, the “affirming source”. If I just ask about what comes next then I inhabit something beyond myself. I can go with the flow.

(For more on trust, read this and that.)

It is also trusting that it is ok to play and to make mistakes. So much rides on the answer to the question, “What does God want me to do with my life?” The fear of getting it wrong is potentially catastrophic and we can be petrified into inaction for years. The question, “What do You want me to do now?”, has very little riding on it. Made a wrong turn? Readjust the course. Said the wrong thing? Apologise and try again. Wasted your time? Do something more satisfying now.

(To hear God speak about play and mistakes, read this.)

To me, the question “What do You desire said or done (or not), now?” is less narcissistic, less of the grand narrative, more grounded and ordinary, more humble, less about how I look to others and more about an inner authority, less about comfort and more about contentment, less striving or soothing and more satisfaction, and frequently less about getting things done and more about simple presence. It is less about Heaven (a future destination and reward) and more about Eternity (a present reality). It is just about now, doing this with love and presence.

(To read my thoughts on meaning and purpose here.)

It is trusting that if I do the next thing and the next thing and then the next thing, that a thread will emerge that will carry me into life and into You. Little by little I become more sensitive to the authentic voice inside me, the voice of God. Little by little God becomes my constant companion.

[Syndicated from]

Finding Depth

I was lost – tired, overwhelmed, and angry. A wise woman once said to me that underneath anger is hurt or fear. I felt hurt. And frightened.

I s(k)ulk through the night.

In the early morning I leave resentment on the other side of the door. I find a way back to myself. I become my breath, become this body, become, by and by, the sensation of being alive.

This is not about inside vs. outside – the ‘inner’ journey as opposed to the ‘outer’.
It is the present moment – which I undergo in only snatches.
It is being alive, “breath by breath, heartbeat by heartbeat,” as James Finley says.
It is joy relishing being unexpectedly alive.
It is knowing this now, not waiting for it, not seeking it.
It is realising that I have never been anything other than rapt.

People say they want depth. What is meant by ‘depth’?
It is a word pointing at an experience that has nothing to do with what may be fathomed.
‘Depth’ is life pared back to its essence.
It is the no-feat-of-mine, ordinary (extraordinary!) awareness of life happening as me,
  God happening as me,
always present,
always given before and beyond any act of mine.

‘Me’ is a fraction of God-as-life happening as everything.

Where does all the time go?

[Syndicated from]

An affirming source (4): Presence

The early morning light in Busy Park

[See Parts 12, & 3]

When God is “an alien will” I may feel the pressure to make amends for the mistakes of the past and to work towards an improved self in the future. When God is an alien will there is a to-do list.

I do not advocate that we abrogate responsibility for making amends and improvements. It is not possible to live without causing harm. Individually and collectively we make choices that have personal and planetary consequences. Meanwhile, politicians fiddle with short-term advantage and image-management while the world burns. The future of the world looks bleak precisely because of a lack of accountability for amending fatal mistakes and making resounding changes.

However, our liability is not like the burdensome imposition of homework on a reluctant schoolchild. It is not the encumbrance of internalised parental and political propaganda that I must become a nicer, healthier, prettier, more intelligent, better read, better informed, more efficient, more productive, more helpful, more holy person. The curriculum of the alien will arises from a feeling of lack; the delight of true work arises from the realisation that everything I need has already been given.

There is a level of affirmation bringing us into, and holding us in existence, which we do not have to work for.


To know the truth that nothing is held against me (that nothing is required of me, that as I am, here and now, is it, which is (as they say) ‘what God wants’, which is another way of saying that there is no god that wants something of me) is to be set free.

By “yielding” to the “affirming source” (which is relaxing into what I already am, “a place where God is happening”) I am “emancipated” from the sins of the past and the demands of the future. I am free to receive the gift of the present. I am released into presence. This is Incarnation.

This is the experience of being this bodyin this place at this moment, an experience that is gifted to us and enabled by the realisation that our source is affirming not demanding. Through yielding to our dependency we find we have everything we need, and nothing is required of us. This being the case we are freed to be present: the past is gone; there is no future to work towards. This, as they say, is it. We can experience the joy of being alive.

And the delight of responsibility arises from the knowledge that there is work to be done if I am to live with joy.

[Coming soon: Part five]

[Syndicated from]

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